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UN: Refugees Flee Ivory Coast

An Ivory Coast policeman stands guard during a youth rally in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, Dec 20, 2010
An Ivory Coast policeman stands guard during a youth rally in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, Dec 20, 2010

The United Nations says it is preparing to assist up to 30,000 refugees fleeing Ivory Coast as a result of the political turmoil and violence in that country.

The U.N. reports more than 6,000 refugees already have fled into two neighboring West African countries, Liberia and Guinea.

U.N. Spokesman Farhan Haq said, "The U.N. refugee agency, U.N.H.C.R., says that it has been beefing up its contingency arrangements for Cote d'Ivoire over the last few days. The agency currently stands ready to cope with the needs of up to 30,000 refugees."

The U.N. High Commission for Refugees says it is sending additional staff to Liberia's Nimba County, the destination for most of the refugees from Ivory Coast, and it is setting up registration centers in 16 villages.

At the United Nations, diplomats are monitoring reaction to the Security Council resolution that was approved on Monday, extending the mandate for the 10,000 U.N. peacekeeping troops in Ivory Coast. In that resolution, the 15-member Security Council unanimously condemned attempts to subvert the election and urged Ivorians to refrain from violence.

During an informal meeting of the Security Council with a group of young people, Nigerian representative Kio Amieyeofori said the Economic Community of West African States, the African Union and the United Nations agree that the winner of Ivory Coast's presidential election, Alassane Ouattara, should assume office.

"All the organizations, the international bodies including the European Union, are united in this message," said Amieyeofori. "And so we are hoping for a peaceful resolution of this problem so that Cote d'Ivoire will return to the position it used to be, and we are going to achieve regional peace and security."

The U.N. Security Council said its members are deeply concerned about the continued violence in Ivory Coast and it has condemned acts of violence against U.N. peacekeepers.